By the time I moved to Seattle in 1997 for two years of grad school, I was already well in the sinuous clutches of craft beer – or “microbrew”, as we called it then – fever. New breweries were exploding, and by that time, many were imploding as well. Being in Seattle, generally thought at the time (quite rightly) to be one of the oases of great beer in America, was something pretty special for a beer drinker such as myself. The big favorites I latched onto at the time, when they were pretty new & something I’d never seen back in San Francisco, were DESCHUTES BLACK BUTTE PORTER and ALASKAN AMBER. These two were everywhere, and they still pretty much are.
Running a distant third to these two heavyweights in terms of both availability, drinkability, and frequency of my consumption was MAC & JACK’S AFRICAN AMBER, a beer almost entirely unknown outside of the Northwest, and yet almost totally ubiquitous within it. It is a really good, straight-up amber ale. I had my first one since the 1990s on Wednesday night while on yet another business trip, this time in Bellevue, Washington. I’m not sure if I’ve even heard of another beer from them – up there, it’s all about the amber. (there are others – check them out here). AFRICAN AMBER is a malty, slightly syrupy amber than nevertheless has a great clean, refreshing feel right off the bat. It’s much cleaner than, say, ANDERSON VALLEY BOONT AMBER – and that’s achieved by significantly reducing the hops, or at least the taste of hops. Me, I like a little hops in my amber ale – you? Throw a few more in this one and we are in business, but that said, this is a beer that could be consumed by the pitcher-full, as it no doubt is during the nine months of rain & gray that Seattle typically endures. Definitely brought back some good 1990s mojo for this old fella. 7/10.